100% Spelt Sourdough Bread

You do not fully understand a type of flour before making a 100% loaf of that flour. I like to combine flours in my bread but to estimate what would be the consequence of each flour addition you need to have a good knowledge of how each flour you use impacts the final bread.

This is why, I baked this 100% spelt sourdough bread, to share with you how this flour behaves.

Spelt is a cereal, very close to wheat that has not been affected too much by industrialisation. The spelt grain is covered by a tough and thick hull. This one protects the grain from insects and diseases. Pollutants and pests are also less effective for this cereal. This is an ancient cereal, and we could consider that we are eating almost the same one that our ancestors were eating.

In recent years spelt gained a lot of popularity especially as an alternative to wheat. Keeping in mind the advantages of the hull, spelt is more organic. Spelt contains more proteins but less gluten. It is not only less gluten but its quality is also poor. The balance between glutenins and gliadins of the wheat is for spelt disturbed. It contains more gliadins that make the dough super stretchy and is low in gliadins that makes the dough less elastic. These are the factors that influence how a spelt dough behaves. Comparing to the wheat dough, it is soft, stretchy, sticky and it is difficult to build the structure inside. When the quality of the gluten network is affected, it is a challenge to trap the CO2 bubbles inside. More than this, spelt flour has fewer sugars, so less food for the yeast bacteria to feed. This means that there will be a lower degree of fermentation that will result in smaller gas bubbles. 

It might look that there are a lot of disadvantages of using spelt flour instead of wheat but there are good reasons why people prefer spelt over wheat.

The first one is that a lot of people who are gluten or wheat sensitive report that they tolerate much better spelt bread than wheat bread. The explanation might be that the gluten in spelt is different from the one in wheat. It is more water-soluble and it is broken much easier by the body. It is then easier to digest it. Another aspect is that it contains a lower % of phytic acid who is an anti-nutrient because it reduces the absorption of minerals by the body. The minerals seem to be in higher levels in spelt than in wheat.

But please, take into consideration that I am not a doctor either a scientist. I tell you here what I learned from studies and articles. The best is to consult a doctor if you have wheat/gluten sensitivity. However, keep in mind that spelt contains gluten so it is not for people with celiac disease.

I also read articles and studies swearing on the fact that spelt is the most miracle flour you can get. I've read others saying the contrary, that has nothing more special than wheat. But health and diet is not my area of expertise, I want to focus here only on how spelt affects bread making. One thing is sure, spelt flour is different from wheat flour.

With the above characteristics, bakers need to adapt their methods to get the best out of the spelt flour. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that the fermentation cannot be extended up until the dough doubles in size. The fermentation needs to be stopped at about a 50% increase in volume. Higher than 50% it looks like a trap, the loaf fell onto itself in the oven. I've tested this a few times and always the same result, the bread got flat. You might want to use tricks like baking the bread into a pan and in this case, you can extend maybe to a 55-60% increase. I wanted to bake this bread freestanding to learn its limits. You also need to understand that each spelt flour is different, so you need to run your own tests with every flour source/brand. Whole spelt flour has other limits of fermentation and hydration. 

To conclude, what works for me and my type of flour you also need to test for your case. Take away the basics and find your own "figures"/limits.

Ingredients: (62% hydration)

  • 180g spelt sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1000g spelt flour (white, organic)
  • 585g water
  • 20g salt 


  1. [Day 1, Saturday, 8:30] Scaling. Start by scaling the ingredients using a balance and put them on the table to ensure nothing is forgotten.
  2. Mix water + flour. Mix the flour with water until well combined. Do not knead at this stage, just ensure there is no unincorporated dry flour resting in the bowl and that's it. Leave the dough to rest for 1 hour.
  3. [Day 1, Saturday, 9:30] Sourdough starter. Add the starter over the dough and mix with a standing mixer for 8 minutes using a slow speed.  After mixing, let the dough relax for 1 hour in the bread proofer at 24ºC.
  4. [Day 1, Saturday, 10:30] Salt. Add the salt and mix for 5 minutes at a slow speed. Let it rest for 1 hour.
  5. [Day 1 Saturday, 11:30] Divide and Stretch and Fold. Take the dough out of the bowl put it on the slightly wet table board and divide it into 2. Stretch and fold each piece on the board and place them in squared glass bowls. Let them sit covered for 1 hour.
  6. [Day 1, Saturday, 12:30] Lamination. Take each piece out of the bowl and do the lamination. Let the dough rest covered for 1 hour. 
  7. [Day 1, Saturday, 13:30] Coil fold 1. Start now a set of 4 coil folds performed straight in the bowls. Do the first coil fold set in each glass bowl and let them sit for 45 minutes.
  8. [Day 1, Saturday, 14:15] Coil fold 2.  Do a second set of coil folds in the glass bowls and let them sit for 45 minutes.
  9. [Day 1, Saturday, 15:00] Coil fold 3. Do a third set of coil folds for each dough and let them sit for 1 hour.
  10. [Day 1, Saturday, 15:45] Coil fold 4. Do the fourth set of coil folds for each dough and let them sit for 1 hour.
  11. [Day 1, Saturday, 16:30] Shape the loaves on the lightly floured board. By this time, the dough in the aliquot jar indicated a 50% volume increase. Place the dough face down into floured bannetons. I used rice flour to avoid the dough sticking to the banneton liners. Repeat the process for the second piece of dough. Place the bannetons in the fridge overnight. 
  12. [Day 2, Sunday, 9:30] Score. Before scoring, you need to preheat the oven at 270ºC. In the oven, I preheat the baking stone and a pan of lava rocks under.
    Take the dough out of the fridge and reverse the banneton on silicone sheets or parchment paper. Score and decorate the bread as you like.  Immediately after, slide the loaves on the hot stone. I add100ml of hot water over the lava rocks under the stone to create more steam in the oven.
  13. Bake at 270ºC for 20 minutes with steam and 20 minutes at 220ºC without steam. 
  14. [Day 2 Sunday, 10:10] Cool. The bread needs to cool for at least 2 hours until it reaches room temperature. The cooking process continues slowly even after taking the bread out of the oven, so this is why it is important to not skip this step and to resist cutting it too early. If you can, of course...
  15. [Day 2, Sunday, 12:10] Cut. Now is the big moment to enjoy a slice of bread... 


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